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Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film

LA TUMBA DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES

OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (French version)

1981

 

Director: Jesus Franco
Screenplay: Jesus Franco, Marius Lesoeur
Music: Daniel J. White
Cast: Manuel Gelin, Eduardo Fajardo, Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Javier Maiza, Albino Graziani; French version: Henri Lambert,
Myriam Landson
Running time: 92/95 minutes
Color

   

This is the extremely rare Spanish language version (Produced by Miguel Tudela for MARTE & Jaun Couret for DIASA) [TVE] of a film better known as Eurocine's OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (The "French" alternate with majority production funds from Daniel Lesoeur, Eurocine-Paris). LA TUMBA... is the superior version for several reasons. Both films share the same basic plot: student Robert Blabert and his friends leave their University studies in London for a journey to North Africa where they will investigate the murder of Robert's father, a former World War Two officer who knew the secret location of a treasure guarded by bloodsucking Nazi zombies.

Both versions are scored by Daniel White, feature Manuel Gelin as Blabert, along with the same cast of young desert searchers and inserted footage from Alfredo Rizzo's I GIARDINI DEL DIAVOLO, a third rate Italian World War Two adventure crudely cut into the assembly to represent Blabert's combat flashbacks. French and Spanish versions feature Antonio Mayans and Doris Regina in the key roles of The Shiek and Aicha, who hold knowledge of young Robert's secret background. Frequent 1980s Franco cinematographer/actor, Juan Soler Cozar (credited as DP on this Spanish version) is also seen playing the role of a documentary filmmaker in OASIS (along with regular Franco technician Angel Ordiales as his soundman). They are doomed in both versions to die alongside Professor Denicken (Albino Graziani) at the haunted Oasis.

Prominent Eurocult character actor Eduardo Fajardo (DJANGO) plays the role of the ex Afrika-Korps commando, Kurt, in the Spanish version, replacing Henri Lambert in the Eurocine cut. Franco muse Lina Romay appears alongside Fajardo in the Spanish version, replacing Myriam Landson from OASIS. Fajardo and Romay are far more interesting actors than Lambert and Landson and these opening scenes, shot by Cozar employing Dutch camera angles for the zombies attacks at the Oasis, are much more compelling than the parallel footage in Eurocine's cut, lensed by sometime Rollin DP, Max Monteillet. Look for Daniel Katz (the villain in MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE) as one of Fajardo's henchmen in LAS TUMBA....

The most significant difference in terms of atmospherics is the Pablo Villa (Daniel White) score heard in the Spanish version. It features moaning, surging, delirous voodoo rhythms and vocals (cf White's MACUMBA SEXUAL score) which set the action on fire and adds considerable drama everytime it kicks in. The Eurocine soundtrack, also by White, features more conventional, and rather boring Middle Eastern bazaar style music.

The special make up effects in both versions are the same, patheticially unacceptable: guys with worms taped on their faces, ragged clothing and bugged out eyes; one zombie is hilariously represented by a skull on a stick. It doesn't get any worse than this, unless you've seen Eurocine's ZOMBIE LAKE, another inferior Nazi zombie epic.

The aspect ratio on the Spanish TVE version consulted for this review varies between fullframe, 1.66:1 and around 1.85:1 (for all scenes with Fajardo and Romay). Franco now claims to be the sole director of both Spanish and Eurocine versions, but the latter is visually very dull and the alternate footage seems more like the work of a Eurocine house-hack like Marius Lesoeur, who has in the past signed as both A.L. Mariaux (credited as scriptwriter on OASIS...) and the director of credit on the Eurocine cut, A.M. Frank. It's possible that Eurocine exclusively did the post production on OASIS..., for export, leaving Franco to produce his own Spanish version, LAS TUMBA DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES. Both versions fall between ten to fifteen minutes shorter than the 95m runtime noted in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO.

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell


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Oasis of the Zombies